Features, Physical, Truckies’ health and wellbeing

Operator spreads vital health message with stunning T909

WITH so many striking trucks in the R&K Bulk Haulage fleet, adorned with an impressive array of murals and custom paint jobs, it’s near impossible to single one out above the other.

There are the 2014 Kenworth Director Series T909s with their murals of cattle, lightning strikes, horses and country music legend Slim Dusty that turn plenty of heads.

Others are drawn to the Legend 900, known affectionately by owners Russell and Karen Strasburg as the ‘Family Truck’, one of a series with artwork crafted by PJ’s Custom Spray Painting and Truck Mechanical in Brisbane.

Russell’s late brother is featured on the back, Russell and Karen are on the driver’s side, and his parents are on the left.

More recently, the Strasburg’s proudly welcomed a breast cancer awareness truck – a Kenworth T909 named ‘Russell’s Dream’ – with matching trailers resplendent in the cause’s signature pink, spreading the important message near and far.

The Strasburg’s proudly welcomed a breast cancer awareness truck – a Kenworth T909 named ‘Russell’s Dream’.

Today, however, the truck that’s commanding centre stage is one that’s helping inspire Russell through his own personal health battle, a Kenworth T909 A-double dedicated to prostate cancer awareness.

Russell, 68, was diagnosed with prostate cancer around 12 months ago and although the prognosis is encouraging – he’s hoping for the all-clear in January – he is determined to use his experience to help others for years to come.

With the help of long-time partners Brown and Hurley Toowoomba, the 909 has been transformed into a rolling awareness billboard as it traverses across Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW in the line of duty.

Brown and Hurley ordered the prime mover in the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s (PCFA) light blue trademark livery and then sales consultant Richard Lilburne and his pre-delivery department sprang into action for the fit-out.

Taylor Truck Repairs painted the likes of the fuel tanks, dovetail, air cleaners and Bullbar bugs and swing plate, with Signs N Lines doing the scroll/sticker work on the A-double combination to tie the whole truck together.

Every little detail has been carefully thought out, right down to the PROST8 rego plate and the GET CHECKED plea etched into the back of the cab.

Every little detail has been carefully thought out. Image: Lucy RC Photography

The cab, and lead trailer, also boasts the PCFA slogan, ‘His fight…is our fight’, and the logo for the It’s a Bloke Thing Foundation.

Since launching in Toowoomba in 2010, the foundation has helped raise over $12 million to support prostate cancer research, awareness and care. Its annual luncheon at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport is widely recognised as Queensland’s largest daytime fundraising event.

Russell had been getting regular checks for the last 10 years as cancer runs in his family but knows that many other middle-aged men aren’t so diligent about their health.

Over 24,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in Australia, with 1 in 5 at risk of being diagnosed before they turn 85, according to health experts. If detected early in Stage 1, prostate cancer five-year survival rates are over 99 per cent.

“We are hoping that this truck will inspire others to get their health checked,” Russell says.

“Especially since this truck travels roughly 5000km a week across all different routes within Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

“The local community love the look of it, and it has gotten heads turning when on the road.”

Brown & Hurley Toowoomba salesman Richard Lilburne, Karen Strasburg, Russell Strasburg and Brown & Hurley Toowoomba dealer principal Brian Bennetts at the 50th Kenworth milestone presentation in 2022. Image: Brown & Hurley

Rated to 140 tonnes on a Hendrickson suspension with a 4.568 diff ratio, the A-double combination will be carting grain, fertiliser or cow pellets, and joins an 80-strong R&K fleet (subbies included) made up exclusively of Ken- worths.

“R&K only run Kenworth trucks as they are built for Australian roads and made to last. Our model pick is the T909, which most of the fleet are.”

Most are set up as PBS A-doubles, which achieve payloads of between 55-58 tonnes.

“The 909s are just perfect for the job and you can get them all specced up. All of our 909s are set up with TVs, fridges, microwaves and 50-inch bunks, so the drivers have a lot of comfort,” Russell says.

“A lot of drivers take their food with them so they can cook it every night. These trucks are a home away from home. They have all the luxuries – all the works and jerks, everything that opens and shuts. No wonder why our drivers love them.”

Russell ran two transport businesses before R&K, the first carting livestock until 1981, the year his brother was tragically killed in a head-on.

He gave up carting cattle after that and turned to flat tops and fridge vans, before eventually selling up due to “personal reasons”.

The Kenworth T909 A-double is dedicated to prostate cancer awareness.

Russell and Karen then bought a quarry business at Bundaberg carting sand and gravel to the cement works.

Then, 18 years ago a neighbour “out the back” asked them to cart mushroom compost.

“So, we bought another truck, with a single tipper and it’s just kept growing from there,” Karen says. “Word of mouth has helped us get to where we are today.”

Russell agrees: “It’s all about service – and having good drivers and doing the work on time. It’s got nothing to do with what you’re charging because if we don’t provide the service, the customers won’t be coming back.”

Today, the business, which also boasts busy depots in Jondaryan and Clermont, collectively moves between 2500- 3000 tonnes of grain product every day and continues to grow.

The company motto, ‘Lovin it all’, is hand-written on all R&K trucks, including the new prostate awareness truck, and is the maxim that Russell lives by too.

“I just love trucks and I love doing what I’m doing – they’re in my blood and I can’t give it up,” he told Big Rigs in a 2022 story commemorating the arrival of the company’s 50th Kenworth.

“I love sorting all the trucks out each day. It’s a nightmare to organise but when it comes together, it’s brilliant. These trucks are like my babies.”

Another six Kenworths are set to arrive in 2024, and the same number in 2025.

“By then I’ll be 70 – after that I’ve got no idea.

“I’ve got six kids and I’m hopeful that the kids will take it on.

“I’ve got my daughter Brandee and daughter-in-law Rosie doing all the company admin, and my son Jay and daughter Storm doing all the logistics on all the trucks – and they are all doing one hell of a job.”

Fact file:

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no symptoms. In the later stages, some symptoms might include:

  • Feeling the frequent or sudden need to urinate.
  • Finding it difficult to urinate (for example, trouble starting or not being able to urinate when the feeling is there or poor urine flow).
  • Discomfort when urinating.
  • Finding blood in urine or semen.
  • Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips.Many of these symptoms are common. They may not mean you have prostate cancer. But if you are worried about your symptoms, it is important that you talk to your doctor.

Source: Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

1 Comment

  1. Hi guys ,
    Have you ever done a story on IOR , who run big loads of crude oil , from Mereeni oil fields in Central Australia to the Point Lowly port near Whyalla SA ?
    I came across a load heading south about ten years ago , filling up at a truck stop along the Stuart Highway .
    From memory it was a KW ,600 HP , with at least four tankers in tow , could have been five ..not sure.
    The driver was a really nice chap…and so he would have to be to manage those sort of loads..

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